French And Italian | Middle French Literature
F505 | 2305 | Merceron


As a survey of 14th- and 15th- century French literature, this
course aims to address a wide range of generic, esthetic,
thematic and socio-historical issues pertaining to this period.
Although sometimes overlooked or considered a "dark antichamber"
to the Renaissance,these two centuries produced major authors and
works, and harbored new forms of expression which all deserve to
be studied for their own sake and judged on their own merits.  We
will begin our investigation by reading excerpts from chroniclers
such as Joinville (Histoire de saint Louis) and
Froissant (Chroniques), looking at the ways these
narratives showcased edifying models of kingship or met the
esthetic challenge of depicting new ways of staging royal power.
Between permanence and renewal, lyric poetry functioned as an
esthetic laboratory, mixing verse and prose, using allegory to
discuss moral issues or to engage in contemporary debates or
querelles.  Considering these issues, we will read poems
by major authors such as Guillaume de Machaut, Christine de
Pizan, Eustache Deschamps, Charles d'Orléans,
François Villon, and the "Grands Rhétoriqueurs."
The Roman de Mélusine by Cou(l)drette will allow
us to explore the peculiar blending of the fairy tale tradition
with the genealogical tradition, as one of the main purposes of
this work was to ascertain and legitimize the social prestige of
a feudal lineage (the Lusignan) through the careful crafting of a
Legendary ancestry.  With the Farce de Maître
Pathelin and the comic theater we will enter a playful world
of semantic and language, social trickery, and reversal of
fortune.  The reading of critical articles will provide
additional perspectives.

Student's assignments: In-class active participation
(25%); oral presentation (25%); term paper (50%; in French or
English).  The course will be conducted in French.  Non
French-major students may opt to do their assignments in English.